After the initial excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting, and the surge of enthusiasm after the first few spring training games, baseball settles into 3 weeks of games that become somewhat tedious while fans anxiously await the beginning of real games. The World Baseball Classic has helped break up the monotony, as has some interesting developments in the Tigers camp.
After Gammons blogged about the possibility of Carlos Pena being cut in a financial move, Danny Knobler followed up a day later saying that Pena and Nook Logan just weren’t manager Jim Leyland’s type of players. What remains to be seen is what becomes of players who aren’t Leyland’s type. Does the manager have the final say or does Dave Dombrowski hold the trump card? I’d say when it comes to which members of the 40 man roster head north with the big club (the Nook Logan scenario), Leyland might have more say, but when it comes time to decide who is on the payroll (Pena) Dombrowski’s vote probably carries more weight.
While Pena and Logan may have become more suspect than prospect, others are raving about the Tigers youngsters. Gammons notes that Bobby Cox raved about Justin Verlander, and that Leyland is considering taking Jordan Tata north in a bullpen role.
“I’m not afraid to use young pitchers,” says Leyland, who one spring took John Smiley out of Class A ball. “These kids are special, and if they’re better than what we have, I won’t be afraid to use them. I think we’ll see as the spring goes along.”
Al Kaline raved to Lynn Henning about Cameron Maybin saying that
“There’s a guy who’s coming fast,” said Kaline, who has never been one to overreact to prospects, especially 18-year-olds. “But you could see it with him right off the bat. He’s got the skills and the mental toughness.”
Part of the reason for improved prospects may be the fact the Tigers have been drafting better, but it may also be that they have better coaching in the minors. Willie Horton noted:
“When I came on that summer,” Horton said, “the first thing I did was go on the road for 10 weeks looking at our minor league system. I saw some good points, but I saw some bad points. “I saw some good and some bad coaches.
“Now, we’ve got some of the best coaches in baseball — major leagues or minor leagues — down there. When I first came, on a scale of 1 to 10, we had maybe a 3 at the highest for our coaches. Now I see 7, 8, and up.”
As for the Tigers injuries, Craig Monroe and Dmitri Young are still being hobbled by quadricep injuries. Omar Infante isn’t playing because of shoulder tendinitis. Mike Maroth, who missed his start earlier in the week due to elbow tenderness will pitch today.
Another regular who we haven’t heard from is Ernie Harwell. He didn’t make the trip to Lakeland this year, but he did visit the team in Fort Myers.
In other news Tiger single game tickets went on sale yesterday. I was online, as were two of my friends at the moment they became available to try and secure Opening Day tickets. Between the 3 of us we ended up with 1 ticket. I have to believe that there are still a number of opening day tickets being held for season ticket sales. I think (& hope) that more tickets will be released in the coming weeks.
On an unrelated note, you may have noticed a link up in the banner for the Book Shelf. I’ve compiled a listing of baseball books that I’ve enjoyed over the last couple years. All of the links take you to Amazon, and if you purchase any of the titles using those links, I get a few cents. If you’re looking to expand your baseball library, and would like to support this site, I invite you check out the Book Shelf. Also, I’ve recently finished, or am finishing a number of books. I’ll have reviews of those up in the coming weeks.